WISE is featured on WTOP! "Local Muslim women fight fear with self-defense lesson"

WASHINGTON — Rana Abdelhamid was 16 years old when a man attacked her and attempted to remove her headscarf as she was walking on a New York City street six years ago. The incident left her feeling vulnerable and alone, she told a group of local Muslim women at a self-defense workshop Friday night.

A group of 20 local women gathered, some with babies in tow, in the basement of the St. Stephen and Incarnation Episcopal Church, in Northwest D.C., to learn self-defense and discuss what it’s like to be a Muslim woman in America today.

Amid the political climate following the Paris attacks, the San Bernardino shooting and GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States, Muslims — and particularly Muslim women — have felt susceptible to hate crimes.

“It feels that there’s a unique way that Muslim women are being targeted. I think it has to do with the intersection of patriarchy and anti-Muslim hatred and bigotry,” says Darakshan Raja, a D.C. resident and founder of the Muslim American Women’s Policy Forum, an organization aimed at working against state- and gender-based violence.

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